How running back Jase McClellan's injury might affect Alabama football

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football running back Jase McClellan is dealing with a knee injury, coach Nick Saban said after Saturday's win over Ole Miss. 

"The initial report on it is not good," Saban said.

Alabama will get an MRI on it, but Saban said he thinks McClellan is going to be out for a while. 

McClellan rushed for 28 yards on six carries Saturday in the 42-21 victory over Ole Miss. This season, he has 34 carries for 163 yards and one touchdown. 

He has proven to be more of a receiving threat, though. Through the air, McClellan has nine receptions for 86 yards and three touchdowns. 

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"Jase has been contributing great to our offense," running back Brian Robinson said. "He was doing a great job just playing a key role, playing his role to the best of his ability. Just talking to him after the game, making sure he stays positive, whatever the situation might be. It's our job just to stay beside him and keep him up and keep him motivated so he can make a great return." 

Robinson returned after missing the Southern Miss game with an injury. He finished with 36 carries for 171 yards and four touchdowns. 

However long McClellan might be out, Robinson will be asked to lead the way. But the Crimson Tide will have to count on its depth to carry some of the load.

Oct 2, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama running back Jase McClellan (21) looks for running room against Ole Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Roydell Williams and Trey Sanders are two other running backs who have received carries this season. Williams rushed three times for 15 yards against Ole Miss. 

But Alabama isn't going to try and out-run every team moving forward. 

"It's not really how we want to play," Saban said. "It's not how we played all year, and it's not going to be the style we want to continue to play. We have to do the things we have to do to try and win the game. Playing the way we played today on offense was the way we needed to play to win the game." 

Saban added that Alabama wanted to keep the ball away from the Ole Miss offense, so that's partly why the Crimson Tide ran so much. The type of defense the Rebels employ also dictated the frequent running. Alabama had 50 rushes. 

Ole Miss frequently rolls six defensive backs out and sometimes eight. 

"It's hard to throw when they're dropping eight guys all the time," Saban said. "They've got two pretty good rushers, so they end up getting some decent pressure with the three man rush." 

The ground-and-pound style certainly worked, though. And Robinson seemed to enjoy it. 

"It actually did feel like old-school Alabama football today," Robinson said. "I've never had over 30 carries in all the time I've ever played football. Tonight was the night I actually got over 30 carries. It started to feel like the classic pound the football type of team today." 

Consider it a brief appearance  of the classic offense rather than a trend, which probably bodes well considering the limited depth now at running back. 

But even in the offense Alabama wants to run long-term, McClellan was a valuable option for quarterback Bryce Young in the passing game. 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: nkelly@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.